Saturday, July 30, 2011

A great night

A huge thank you to the 200 or so people who came along to Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery last night for the opening of our shows. John van der Kolk was in the main space, I was in Gallery 2, and there was a group exhibition in between. My dearest husband, who isn't biased in any way, tells me that the most excitement in the gallery was in my space - and I think he might have been right, if only because what I was showing isn't what anyone would have been expecting!

This is not a great shot of part of Gallery 2, showing my slates on the wall and two of the cut paper works

These are the slates: three roofing slates, cut into shape about 150 years ago, then screen printed and incised and gold leaf applied by me

Sleeping City: 6 hand-cut skyscrapers

Communication Breakdown (crappy title but I was feeling desperate!), all cut from a single sheet of paper

Dying Words: lino cut and chine colle (two plates)

I had such a fun evening: lots of friends turned up to support me; Deb Wall did a fantastic job of installing the show, making me feel better along the way, AND introducing my work; and people bought stuff! I sold four out of five pieces that were for sale, and received a universal kicking for pricing everything too low. I need to learn a lesson from that, once the euphoria's died down.

This exhibition has been a long and very personal journey for me in many ways. I can't believe how crazily (naively) ambitious I was in saying blithely that I'd produce an entirely new body of work for this show! Madness, frankly, and it brought me as close as I've ever come to throwing it all in, phoning up Deb and confessing that I'd bitten off much, much more than I could chew. I've learned, though, that I am surrounded by supportive, insightful and intelligent friends and family who have been nothing but encouraging, even though I've been a complete whingy pain in the arse. Thanks indeed to my immediate family and to my friends, who've cajoled me into the studio and ignored my stupidity along the way. In one sense I was right, though: by carelessly saying I'd start a new body of work I did indeed kick-start a new body of work! It worked! What I've got on exhibition at Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery represents a lot of effort but is the tip of an iceberg of work that could easily absorb me for another ten years, which is both daunting and satisfying at the same time.

I've also learned the hard way that I need to have more confidence in what I do and INCREASE MY PRICES! I think every single person I spoke to yesterday evening said exactly the same thing... which would have been depressing except that I didn't think anyone would want to buy anything! When I took the work into the gallery I marked it all "NFS" and only had a last minute change of heart, which resulted in a somewhat diffident pricing strategy, but never mind.

The biggest lesson, though, is probably that I need to keep on doing what I'm doing, week in and week out, so that I DO accumulate a considered body of work over time, in whatever form it takes. Then I will have something ready to exhibit when an opportunity arises, or something to sell when someone is interested, instead of scrabbling around to find something because I don't expect anyone to ask. That's a very different attitude, which I will have to find a way to cultivate. After all, if I don't take myself seriously as an artist, why should anyone else?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lies, damned lies and statistics

I thought it would be fun to look at all the books on tape I listened to while my scalpel and I cut words out of paper for my Speaking in Tongues exhibition, and I was indeed quite amused: 18 novels on 61 tapes, totalling 94 hours and 15 minutes worth of recordings! And I wasn't always listening to books on tape, either...

I've had a cruise-y sort of day today which was a welcome change: I planted three Wistringia and a couple of Oregano seedlings on a bank outside the house, made a new perch for the chook house, vacuumed my studio, did our budget (not much fun, but I promised myself I'd do it today, having put it off from yesterday because I didn't want to sully our wedding anniversary with the bad news about our cash flow forecast!), and started sorting out paper for one of my BAO books. I plan to make the first one next week so that I can get it down to Ronnie ASAP for the Impact exhibition, and then follow up with the rest of them. Things are about to start happening.

But in the meantime, a new off-licence has opened up in town that stocks Belgian beer! So I'm sitting at my laptop with a bottle of Leffe Blonde in hand, remembering when I used to live in Brussels and thinking it would be nice to go back!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


A big thank you to Claire Simmonds from the local Coffs Coast Advocate newspaper who came over to my studio last week with Bruce Thomas and - despite my lack of voice and horrible cold - contrived to put together a lovely interview and photo for me today in the paper, advertising my show which starts on Friday!

At last, after all the blethering, I've delivered the work to the gallery (this morning) and can sit back and relax, at least until opening night on Friday!

I do this to myself every time, although the performance anxiety for this show has been worse than usual, but in fact getting everything out in the exhibition space made me realise it's not bad: it's cohesive, distinctive, and it looks like I've got a pretty mean wrist action with a scalpel.

In my haste I haven't taken many working photographs, but I hope to sneak in on Friday morning with dearest husband and a decent camera and take some photos in situ... which of course I'll post here in due course.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Snivelling shivers, Batman

Geez, I've got a cold and a half. Serves me right for congratulating myself on avoiding the lurgy everyone else in Coffs Harbour seems to have had in recent months... Clearly I should have said it under my breath instead of out loud, because no sooner did we arrive in Wagga Wagga for a weekend of celebration with my in-laws than I started to go down with it

Anyway, despite the snivells I've been working VERY hard on new work for my exhibition and had great fun with a lino cut while I was away. All I have to do now is work out how to print it.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Catching up in Brisbane

We've just got back from a few days in Brisbane, ostensibly delivering various items (motorbike, washing machine, microwave, bicycle...) to Mr P, my stepson, and his partner who now live in swanky West End. But we had to experience a little bit of culture while we were there, didn't we? And by "culture" in this instance I'm thinking of a decent place to eat a cheap dinner, swanky cocktail bars and a great Teppanyaki restaurant as well as the joys of the South Bank.

I loved being back in a city again. Much though I enjoy living in the countryside, it is sometimes nice to get a blast of urban living. We stayed near Roma Street Parkland - famous in our house for appearances on Gardening Australia with Colin Campbell wandering round it - and yesterday we managed to take a walk there ourselves. It's not so much that we have a thing about Mr Campbell - although he is fabulous - it's more that the Brisbane climate is similar to the Coffs Coast climate and hence most of what he says, and most of what grows in the area, is relevant to us as we struggle to establish our own gardens.

This trip we took photos of areas in the Roma Street Parkland that we liked, and picked up some ripe palm fruit from a foxtail palm, which I will now have to look up on the internet to see if I can propogate the seeds!

Of course no visit would have been complete without a trip to the South Bank area, with its wonderful architecture and galleries. Sadly, though, we'd forgotten how DREADFUL the cafe is at the Museum. Really - don't go there! Not only is the food crap, the service is crap as well. Too late - i.e. after we'd queued and paid - we remembered that the place we'd really enjoyed eating at is the very comfortable half in-door, half out-door cafe and bookshop at the State Library of Queensland, only a block away... but luckily after we'd dragged Mr P and Ms L through the Museum, the Queensland Art Gallery AND the Gallery of Modern Art we felt able to partake of an extra cup of coffee (oh, and did I mention the cake?) at the Library cafe, so balance was restored to the world. AND I picked up an illustrated "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" for darling daughter and somehow I managed to slip a 3-pack of large blank Moleskine sketchbooks into my shopping basket as well, which was really naughty as we just don't have any money right now. Ah well; too late.

I did love this piece by Jill Barker called Faultlines, 1996, which was thousands of hand-drawn wavering lines of blue pen all the way down two looooong sheets of paper. I recognise that I am attracted to work that seems almost impossibly complex/tedious/repetitious, as if there's some intrinsic merit in the sheer effort that goes into it. I probably ought to ponder this more since I find myself increasingly slaving away over my own work in a similar vein... But anyway, it was an interesting part of a single gallery collection that was curated by Marian Drew from Griffith University. I have sadly lost the note I made of the other works in this photo, but the overall exhibition referenced Buoyancy, and I found it interesting. Marian Drew brought together everything from contemporary erotic Japanese woodcuts to 1930s landscapes, painstakingly wrought on eucalyptus leaves in oil paint. It was intriguing and I would have loved more information on the GoMA website as well as in the gallery.

One thing GoMA is great at is engaging with children, and engaging children with the art. The gallery is currently hosting a major exhibition of Surrealist work - absolutely NOT my cup of tea - and we went down to the children's areas to see what was going on, and it was brilliant: the gallery walls were covered in crazy images of ink-blot creatures, and there were half a dozen activities ranging from editing the Surrealism Daily News on computer to creating collages with coloured paper or bizarre found images superimposed on old landscape engravings! Clearly everyone down there was having a ball, and my daughter was no exception.

The one thing I didn't manage, which would have been lovely, was to meet up with Amanda Watson-Will, newly back from a month in Paris! Not surprisingly she was exhausted, and although we had a last-minute idea to meet for coffee on the South Bank it wasn't to be. We're going to save that pleasure for another trip up to Brisbane, when hopefully we'll all have some more energy and I won't be towing a trailer. Thanks for the thought, Amanda - I am looking forward to catching up with you and various other BookArtObject friends at Impact 7 in Melbourne at the end of September.


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